4294006788_018e1489b6.jpg
Sen. Pam Roach's anger issues are becoming the stuff of legend around Olympia.
Thanks to her classic "flowers speech" -- when she exploded in a

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Investigation Reveals Sen. Pam Roach Is "Crazy," "Unhinged" and "Bipolar"

4294006788_018e1489b6.jpg
Sen. Pam Roach's anger issues are becoming the stuff of legend around Olympia.
Thanks to her classic "flowers speech" -- when she exploded in a rage after a fellow Senator moved a bouquet of roses off her desk -- and her more recent expulsion from her own party's meeting room, State Senator Pam Roach already has a reputation as a hothead.

Yesterday it was revealed that an investigation into two incidents involving Roach cost the state more than $55,000. In lean economic times that might seem like wasteful spending. But for pure storytelling purposes it was worth every penny.

What follows is the story behind one of those incidents, courtesy of a public records request by The Tacoma News Tribune.

It's last April. Nearing the end of the session.

Senior Senate counsel Michael Hoover is in the GOP caucus room. Hoover has been in the Senate for over a decade, working his way up from staff counsel.

Someone brings up the use of public funds for personal political purposes. This is a source of constant debate. And part of Hoover's job is to remind Senators and staff to toe what is a slippery ethical line.

Hoover leaves the room. When he returns, he's warned that the discussion has gotten heated in his absence.

Sen. Don Benton is asking some tough questions of Hoover when Roach takes over. Going from "zero to ten on the angry scale," says Hoover.

Roach is telling Hoover that he's not doing his job. That he doesn't advocate for members. That he makes too much money.

Hoover says he can feel the hate coming off of Roach as she yells at him. Benton steps in, telling Roach that "Mike is not the enemy here."

Witnesses say Roach asks the Secretary how much money Hoover makes. She then leaves the caucus room, slamming the door behind her.

Later, Hoover says he brings Roach a printout of his salary information which she immediately throws in the trash.

Roach allegedly tells Hoover he's "a terrible person" and "should be fired."

Hoover says Roach's hatred for him began in 2003. The Senator received a formal reprimand relating to the departure of two of her aides.

Hoover says Roach thinks he treated her unfairly and doesn't miss the opportunity to try and make him look bad.

Once, Hoover says he overheard Roach tell a mayor that he was a "terrible person," "not to be trusted" and "the kind of person...trying to bring me down."

With the exception of Benton and Roach, all other witnesses support Hoover's account. Saying Roach attacked Hoover.

According to Chris Farias, the lawyer hired to conduct the investigation, the "level of fear" amongst witnesses was "quite remarkable."

"Witnesses I interviewed expressed concern about retaliation by Senator Roach on a nearly unanimous basis," he writes. "People expressed concern about themselves personally and professionally, for their families and the causes they cared about...I was warned by a number of people of my own vulnerability."

Because of this fear, most of the choice comments Farias got about Roach aren't attributed to specific people. Here's a sampling:

- "It's venom, the feeling that comes when she walks into the room. Like she smells blood. Something is not right with her, it's like she comes unhinged."

- "It was like meat in front of a Rottweiler. She went crazy."

- "We call it 'being Roached.'"

Just as interesting is a disputed comment. According to Senator Dale Brandland, Benton says that "I think Pam is bipolar or something." A comment Benton later denies, then says if he did say it it would have been "off the record."

When interviewed, Roach says she doesn't recall much of the incident because it wasn't a big deal to her. She doesn't remember yelling and says she couldn't have pointed angrily at Hoover because she was holding M&Ms in her hand at the time.

In his conclusion, Farias writes that Roach "engaged in a very personal, demeaning attack" on Hoover. And in doing so, violated the Senate's harassment policy.

 
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